By Tori Gushea, August 2015
When I decided to go back to school to get my Bachelor's degree in nursing, I had very little hesitation regarding my ability. I knew that having already earned an undergraduate degree from a reputable private college I was quite capable of completing the work required to earn another comparable degree. I knew I was a hard worker and my life and current schedule was conducive to adding in some classes. The major difference between my classes before and my classes now was the venue. I earned my first degree as a full time student, attending classes in person with my instructor directly in front of me for immediate question and answer opportunities. Although I did work part time during college the first time around, I chose my work hours around my class schedule. School, at that time of my life, was my first priority. I lived in a dorm room and had meals prepared for me at the school dining hall and being on campus, I had a library at my disposal. What I did not have was a full time job, three young children to raise, a relationship to nurture and a household to maintain. These life obstacles are nearly enough to stop any person from continuing their education.
Well Designed for the Working, Non-traditional Student
What I was surprised to learn was how much Utica College smooths these obstacles for the average student. The simple fact that Utica College offers my degree program solely as an online program is very enticing. When I looked at the curriculum, I realized that I would truly be able to incorporate the required courses into my busy life and, more importantly, I could do the work when it was convenient for me. I had heard from students in programs at other colleges how they had the majority of their program online but had to visit the school for one thing or another throughout their enrollment. I had nearly resigned myself to think I would need to attend something in person but I was hesitant because I really could not afford the time to meet this requirement. When I found the Utica College program, I realized my resignation was not necessary and that this program was truly designed for the working, non-traditional student.
What is a Success Coach?
The absolute best surprise of all, though, was learning I had a success coach in this program. I have to admit that I was initially suspicious of what the role of this person would mean for me. I had never utilized any guidance counselor or academic advisor in the past, so how would this “success coach” prove to be useful to me now? I recognized the necessity of meeting with this person in order to map out my plan of study but I could not entertain any need beyond that. Thankfully, I was sorely mistaken in my understanding of what a success coach really is.
What has been proven to me is that a success coach is appropriately named. This person works with the student to ensure every opportunity is afforded for the success of the student. Frequent communication via emails and phone calls helps to remind the student that the right decision was made to continue their education and the coach accepts frequent and honest feedback to better the online experience for future students. As if the programs at Utica College were not enough to encourage students to attend, these success coaches are the best surprise and most efficient means to inspire students to continue their education.
About the Author
Tori Gushea has spent 13 years caring for high risk obstetrical patients and an additional 2 years managing combined Pediatrics and Obstetrical units. She has a love for learning and enjoys teaching through peer support, and in her role as staff orienteer.